Stanford/Holst/Bax

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Stanford/Holst/Bax
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: Piano Trio No. 2 in G minor; Short Pianoforte Trio in E; Piano Trio in B flat
PERFORMER: Pirasti Trio
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 925 DDD
The Pirasti Trio was formed in 1989 and its three young members, teaching variously at the Royal Academy of Music, Trinity College and Wells Cathedral School, are to be commended for bringing these elusive works to disc, on the whole sympathetically played, and with a bit of judicious portamento appropriate to the period. There are a few unaccountable moments. The pianist, Jeffrey Sharkey, tends to handle climaxes as if he’s soloing in a big Romantic concerto, while the violinist’s tone hardens as he struggles to compete and the cellist straddles the line of near-inaudibility. In the more restrained passages the balance is better and there’s some enticing dialogue between the instruments.

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Stanford’s Trio sounds as if he’s been having a conversation with Brahms in which Elgar has been occasionally mentioned. It’s fastidiously crafted, Romantic in expression and Classical in design, enjoyable if derivative. Holst’s short work, dating from his twentieth year (he referred to it as ‘one of my early horrors’), is a ‘first time on disc’, pleasant enough, but giving no indication of the successes to come. The Bax, written about half a century after the other works, is the most memorable item and inspires the best performance and interpretation. Wadham Sutton